Thursday, September 6, 2012

Riba s Grožđa iz Zastražišće (Cousin Roger's fish and grapes - Week 36)

My cousin Roger....  What can I say, we ran through the vineyard together as kids, making noise, breaking levees, ruining the irrigation with great plans to do something "non-Croatian" with our lives.  Right!  I am writing a food blog and my award winning photographer cousin is farming Thompson seedless.  We all migrate to our roots.

So let me introduce you to Roger.  Roger is the oldest (a nasty thing for a Cro are the experimental child) and was always to blame when a young sibling gets in hot water.  For Roger this was quite an issue.  I still have flashbacks of his little brother taking a bath in tiki torch fluid at Teta Lucy's.  Little brothers!!  Oh my.  God was very kind to Roger and gave him 3 beautiful daughters (and a great tall fiery redhead wife -- Love you Katie!!)

I think Roger secretly tortured me by taunting my sister in to trouble making ventures.  ".........there was this time with my Mom's VW.....or was it the whole episode at your Kuma's wedding....who knows but I have your number pal!"

Riba s Grožđa iz Zastražišće (Cousin Roger's fish and grapes)
 I am going to give it to you straight from Roger - no edits but maybe a guessed measurement....I'm making this on my own over the weekend and will add my thoughts in the comment section!!

"OK, here are the grape recipes I mentioned. A word of caution: These are Rog-recipes, which means exact amounts, cooking times, etc are included for your benefit only and are merely estimates. My "recipes" are sorta like those from your Nona or Teta…you eyeball everything and cook it until it looks right. I also change them up a little bit according to my mood or taste that day...just something else that drives the Redhead insane when she tries to copy my cooking. 


A Zastrazisce special! Dad has some fond memories of this one. Of course it is very Slav, very simple, and very easy to customize for individual tastes.

1. Fish…pretty much any firm fleshed variety will work. I usually cook 4-5 fillets. Talapia is good because it is cheap and doesn’t have a strong, fishy flavor. Sea bass is really good too…honestly, I think most anything you pull from the sea would work well. I’ve never done this with a freshwater variety, though…it runs counter to my Croatian instincts and island heritage. Still, if somebody wants to try it, I would gladly be their taste-tester.

2. 2-3 cups Seedless grapes…stems removed, of course. I think thompsons are the best for cooking as the skins are thin and they quickly break down when heated. Red ladyfinger types are also good, but they take a little longer to cook down.

3. Salt and pepper are a is olive oil and some crushed or minced fresh garlic. I like a little red pepper flakes too. A herb can also be used if you want…parsley, rosemary, fennel, thyme, sweet basil, can all work well depending on the fish you use and the flavor you like…but DON’T OVERDO IT! Small amounts of herbs go a long way on this dish, and you don’t want it to taste like your lawn. If you do use a herb, use only one type and us it sparingly. Parsley is the best choice when in doubt.

Drizzle the fish with the olive oil, rub with garlic, your herb of choice (if desired), and salt and pepper to taste. Grill the fish to put a little “crust” on it so it will not fall apart…I use an indoor grill for this and it works well. Remember, you are not trying to cook the fish completely, just help it hold together when it is added to the grapes.

Put cleaned grapes in a sauté pan and set to medium high heat, add some red pepper flakes...if desired, but I recommend it...and begin to cook them down. Mix often in the first few minutes so they cook evenly and don’t get scorched. 

Add the fish to the sauté pan after the grapes break down and their juices caramelize and thicken…usually it takes about 10 minutes for that to occur and you want to add the fish near the end of that process. Reduce heat and GENTLY mix or toss together, so the fish gets coated with the sweet sticky goodness of the grapes and finishes cooking for 1-2 minutes. 

I like to keep this simple and serve it with steamed white rice…my kid’s favorite part is mixing some of the cooked grapes with the it and it rocks! Seriously, they can’t get enough of this dish."

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